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Current Exhibition

31/03/2019 - 30/03/2020

Cave Myths (Endless Spelunking)

Georges Dorignac, Pauline Curnier Jardin, Mike Kelley, Rachel Khedoori, Alexandra Leykauf, Lee Lozano, Luís Lázaro Matos, Nathaniel Mellors, Paul Thek, Dick Verdult.

Quetzal Art Center proudly presents the group exhibition Cave Myths (Endless Spelunking), that will be on view from 31 March 2019.

Modern consciousness was born in darkness: the darkness of the cave. It was in the subterranean dwellings of early man where, in the words of Werner Herzog, ‘the modern human soul had awakened’, in social rituals and visual expressions that testify to the human capacity to reflect, sublimate and create. In our collective unconscious, the story of the cave is the story of aesthetic invention, of ideation, of the slow coming into being of a complex, sensitive intelligence, located someplace between primordial chaos and the first structures of civilization. In its most famous philosophical treatment, of course, the cave is the allegorical locus of our truths, and the birthplace of our political emancipation. A shadowy place that hides the answers to all the questions of mankind in its infinite cracks and folds.

Cave Myths (Endless Spelunking) associatively traces the genealogy of the cave as a generative space for ideas in contemporary art. It brings together an intergenerational selection of works by artists who engage with the cave and notions around the subterranean, and its seemingly endless potential for artistic exploration. We return to the cave all the time, to try and unravel its eternal secrets; in our contemporary post-truth reality, in which ideological bankruptcy and technological hubris have outlined a horizon of global collapse, the urgency of a return to the origins of civilization feels more poignant than ever.

Some works in the exhibition at Quetzal Art Center (with its subterranean art galleries) employ the cave as a physical site in which speculative narratives around topics like identity and power are situated. For her video installation Grotto Profunda Approfundita (2017), for example, Pauline Curnier Jardin has constructed a cave-like room that, once inside, evokes the sensation of being swallowed inside the bowels of a human body, allowing the artist to ironically play with clichés surrounding the cave as a spiritual and gendered space. In The Sophisticated Neanderthal Interview (2013), Nathaniel Mellors orchestrates a cave-side meeting between a modern man and a Neanderthal, who discloses an alternative theory on the origins of art, and its institutionalization. Mike Kelley reflects on the Platonic cave and its juxtaposition of truth and illusion in his drawing Exploring, that formed part of his large installation Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile (1985). Here, the artist orders the viewer: “When spelunking, sometimes you have to stoop… Sometimes you have to go on all fours… Sometimes even crawl… Crawl worm!!”

Cave Myths (Endless Spelunking) also includes new and existing work by George Dorignac, Dick Verdult, Alexandra Leykauf, Lee Lozano, Rachel Khedoori, Paul Thek, and a monumental site specific installation by Luís Lázaro Matos.

Cave Myths (Endless Spelunking) is co-curated by Aveline de Bruin and Xander Karskens. A publication, with texts by Karskens and John C. Welchman, and design by Studio Felix Salut, will be published alongside the exhibition.

More information, read the handout CAVE MYTHS (Endless Spelunking).